t has been an “absolutely horrific year” since March for people in the music and entertainment industry, with gigs having dried up with all events canceled and nowhere to perform, but one industry veteran isn’t allowing that to stop to his creativity or the music.
Dillon “DMac” McKenzie, through his Commonwealth Recording Studio (CRS), teamed up with veterans and rising talent to create new Bahamian music with a twist, featuring a compilation of new upcoming talent and experienced industry professionals for the compilation album known as “Top 10 Party Vibes: Da Bahamian Edition”.
The album features different styles of rake and scrape music.
“We’re not just creating new sounds, we’re creating new opportunities for players in the game,” said McKenzie, who serves as executive producer for the project, but adds that he did a little bit of everything. Whatever needed to be done – he did it.
Over the course of 10 weeks, one single from the album was released weekly. The album in its entirety became available September 7.
“Top 10 Party Vibes: Da Bahamian Edition” features the singles “No More Tears” from Sammi Starr, featuring Sweet Emily and BahaMian Trae; “Told U I Was Coming”, featuring Eddea “Dee The Entertainer” Stirrup; “Say Less, Do More”, featuring Novie Smith; “G.O.A.T. (God Over All Things)”, featuring Clay “QPid” Adderley; “Lonely No More”, written, arranged and composed by Fred Ferguson; “Time 2 Go” by Dimitri Smith; and a “Synergy Medley”, a medley of classic cover songs produced by McKenzie, Terrance Cole and The Synergy Band, and mastered by Ray R. Ewing, with lead vocals featuring Whitney Turnquest and Lavardo Sands, Darien Francis and Ontario Dames on keyboards, Staffon Barr on lead guitar, Neil Andrews Jr. on bass guitar and Oscar Dames Jr. on drums and percussion.
According to McKenzie, the goal of the project is to show unity among the entertainers and musicians community, and that they can come together for one common goal. He said even though they’re together, there is still a divide.
“Around the time the country closed in March, we said we need to see if we could get some momentum going in terms of the entertainment industry. The project was to bring together the minds of those people who have been in the industry for a while to newcomers to bring new sound.”
McKenzie said he’s proud of what they were able to produce.
Another goal of the project, he said, was to produce great world-standard Bahamian music that people around the world would be able to appreciate and that The Bahamas would be able to be very proud of.
“It’s Bahamian music at its best,” said McKenzie. “We did not take any shortcuts. We put out a product that sets the standard for Bahamian music, to get the music exposed to the international market.”
The songs are all original.
Tony Williams, Star 106 Hits production programming director, said “Top 10 Party Vibes: Da Bahamian Edition” is a good idea because it’s keeping the Bahamian music coming at a time when the music has literally dried up.
“They’ve released a couple good tracks that [are] getting radio play,” said Williams.
Moving forward, McKenzie said his goal at CRS is to garner further support from the entertainers and musicians community in making more projects like “Top 10 Party Vibes: Da Bahamian Edition”, which he said they need more of.
“There has always been the complaint that there is not enough Bahamian music out there [on the radio], so we want to make sure we are not a part of the excuse. We want to make sure show that we can get in there and make things happen in the industry. So, moving forward for Commonwealth Recording Studio is to make sure continue the series.”
Plans are already underway for other projects, including volume two of the “Top 10 Party Vibes” – all expected to be released within 12 months per year.
“So, it’s more project… More getting together. On this project, what was so unique is the fact that we had drummers from different bands play on other artists, or other persons from different bands’ project, [and] it just shows the diversity.”
While McKenzie plans to continue with the projects, like many people, he’s ready for COVID-19 to be a thing of the past. And unlike many other sectors, entertainers and musicians found themselves in an unfortunate position of blurred lines when it came to receiving any form of assistance during a period when they haven’t been working.
Full-time musicians and entertainers work from job to job, so when the tourism industry shut down, artists and musicians saw their money dry up as well.
“We work from job to job. To make money, our creativity has to be at an all-time high, and in these types of times, it’s difficult for us to be able to create and still have these [financial challenges] looming over our head and trying to figure where the next dollar is coming from.”
McKenzie said entertainers and musicians can average $1,500 per performance at homecomings and regattas, providing they’re current.
McKenzie founded CSR with his brother Kevin McKenzie in 1985, and said earning a living in-studio has been difficult.
“Money is dried up all around. Persons coming in [the studio] with the ability to pay has been an issue before COVID and people pursuing music full-time is even more difficult for studios, but we remain hopeful. We continue to try to create in hopes that in the next few months things will happen.”
McKenzie – a triple threat as a songwriter, executive producer and artist, who is well-known for a number of popular hits such “Dog Don’t Bark At Parked Car”, “A Gaulin Song” and “Ya Gal Ga Look Like Dat” – said he’s just thinking about what’s to come.
“This is what we do for a living. Like any other person with a business, you may get a small job coming through every now and then. You have to have that hope and continue to push on.”
He said he has new music, but won’t drop any at this time.
“I have an album that’s ready to go, but I’m holding back on it,” he said. “Our music being released is based on our ability to tour and perform and get it on streaming platforms, and everybody is watching their dollars.”